The key plays on today’s deals are very simple and very effective yet few bridge players would even think of them. The reason is that they call for putting yourself in your opponents’ shoes and most players are not in the habit of doing this.
Here you are in five clubs on the lead of the three of spades. It looks like one off for sure, losing three aces. But one declarer did better, discarding all three of his losing hearts.
The successful declarer played the five of spades from dummy at trick one! He didn’t give up anything by doing this because it was a bridge certainty that East held the ace of spades — no one of any experience leads a suit headed by the ace without the king. Now look at things from East’s point of view. When declarer played low in dummy it looked for all the world that he had the ten so East rose with the ace. Now when declarer followed with a low spade, it placed West with a singleton so East returned a spade for his partner to ruff. It must have come as quite a surprise when declarer was the one who showed out, pitching all three of his losing hearts to land his unlikely game.
The next deal comes from the Buffet Cup, a competition between Europe and America modelled on golf’s Ryder Cup.
A number of tables played in three hearts making three. West started with a top club and shifted to a diamond, taken by declarer with the queen. Declarer still had to lose a diamond so the success of the hand would depend on losing just two hearts. Declarer played a heart to the king in dummy, taken by East with the ace. Declarer next broached hearts by leading the nine in dummy and letting it run when East played low, holding the trump losers to just two.
Only one East managed to take three heart tricks and beat the contract. It was multiple world champion Giorgio Duboin of Italy who saw things from declarer’s point of view. When declarer played a heart to the king, Duboin ducked. This naturally gave declarer the impression that West held the ace of hearts so when declarer played the nine of hearts off dummy and Duboin played the ten, declarer played low hoping that West’s putative ace was now bare. Duboin’s clever ruse immediately became clear when West showed out but it was too late. Nothing could stop Duboin making two more heart tricks with the ace and jack for one down.